2011 d*s scholarship: grad finalists + voting!

by Grace Bonney

The undergraduate scholarship voting is already off to a great start, and it’s been so fun to read people’s comments and see how excited they’re getting about the next generation of young designers. Today I’m equally thrilled to announce our second and final group of top 10 contenders: our graduate student finalists! These artists and designers have already completed undergraduate work and are now in advanced programs for everything from metalsmithing and graphic design to fibers and painting. There is some really thought-provoking work in this set, so I hope you’ll take the time to explore each finalist, check out their websites and cast your vote (in the poll after the jump) for your favorite. Winners of both the undergraduate and graduate contests will be announced on Friday. Thank you so much to all of the graduate students who took the time to enter, and thank you again to this year’s scholarship sponsors: West Elm, Perigee Books (a division of Penguin) and Artstream.

Please note: All applicants are listed in alphabetical order below. There will be four prizes awarded, which will be determined by voting. The voting order below will randomize with each new viewer; you must click on the poll to register a vote. Comments will not count toward the total. Voting for graduate applicants will end Thursday, December 22nd at 10pm EST (East Coast).

View all 10 graduate applicants and VOTE after the jump . . .

Lilian Crum, Graduate Student at Cranbrook Academy of Art (Graphic Design)

Lillian describes her work as: “Traditionally, a graphic designer acts as a transparent vehicle to communicate a message from one end to another. My goal as a designer is alternatively to explore visual uncertainty. I investigate perception through a psychological lens by tapping into the phenomenological and experiential qualities that visual art can evoke. This process is often manifested as enigmatic, anthropomorphic forms that are impulsive yet considered, static yet animated, and physical yet abstract. My most recent work utilizes light and shadow as a raw material to transcend a merely visual experience. Instead, the senses and the psyche are stimulated according to conditions of light, shadow, solids, voids, and transparencies. The varying qualities of natural light acts as an ethereal measure of time and change, and heightens a phenomenological experience while simultaneously expressing metaphysical meaning.”

See more of Lilian’s work here.

Elise Deringer, Graduate Student at Arizona State University (Fibers)

Elise describes her work as: “My work is a blending of sculpture and textile design. I work with a mix of surface design (dyes, printing, photographic processes) and non-traditional media (concrete, sand, salt, rocks) to create forms that consider ideas of transformation and time through the lens of landscape and the symbolic vessel. My background in functional sewing and tailoring plus an undergraduate degree in sculpture bring a heightened level of sensitivity to intentional craft and the potential for cloth to function on multiple levels – as metaphor to landscape, the body, and architecture – while retaining a sense of intimacy. Part of my internal process is an attempt to comprehend truths about continuity and transformation. Is the transformation of an object similar to transformation of the self, in both permanent and transitory ways? What truths does this yield? I want to understand simultaneous conflicting desires existing within the self. My recent works are constructed primarily of silk, juxtaposed against other materials such as sand, stones, and concrete. Silk embodies contradiction: it is carefully cultivated, delicate, and luminous in a way that belies the strength of each strand. The sand sifts through, the stones remain contained, and the concrete saturates, becoming both in and out of the form at once. In this way, the forms become like a shoreline – a transitory space that is neither in the sea nor on the earth. Time passes; erosion carves a line and sediment builds up. Photographic processes, stitching, dyeing, sifting – these all document time spent engaging with the cloth to develop its identity as a purposeful object. This work has developed from increasing awareness of change and shifting within myself. I see a connection between filters, containers, and the idea of a permeable, indefinable border as a place where opposing states (and states of mind) come together and become something new. These pieces are for preserving, discarding, seeking balance and finding a space where there is room for understanding. Uniqueness is an odd quality to characterize: is there anything new under the sun? I struggle with the same philosophical quandaries as many others, yet I find that the manifestation of that struggle is physically different in small ways. The repeated form, and the tension between weight/mass and perceived fragility or delicacy are explored in a way that are uniquely the product of my hand.”

See more of Elise’s work here.

Marta Dlugolecka, Graduate Student at Royal College of Art (Illustration)

Marta describes her work as: “The main focus of my work is illustration, which I create using hand-made models. Through the process of photography and digital manipulation I am able to construct unique worlds that almost seem to have a life of their own. When creating work my aims are to produce an interesting, eye-catching imagery, expressive characters and most importantly to tell a story.”

See more of Marta’s work here.

Jenny Kutnow, Graduate Student at MICA (Graphic Design)

Jenny describes her work as: “I use design as a forum for cross-disciplinary discourse. I believe graphic designers, architects, fashion designers, and other creative practitioners can find more innovative solutions to their work through open knowledge and collaborative experience; through my work, I am constantly seeking out ways to blur the lines across creative fields. As an undergraduate, I studied furniture design at RISD and learned fine woodworking and welding skills. After I graduated in 2001, I worked as a product, furniture, and graphic designer in various realms of architecture. As a second-year MFA candidate in graphic design at the Maryland Institute College of Art, I am currently writing and designing a book that explores the relationship between architecture and graphic design. Designers from varying disciplines are increasingly overlapping their areas of interest and practice and my book will highlight existing significant collaborative practitioners and their work, as well as empowers architects to better harness the tools of graphic design. My experience as an interdisciplinary designer not only gives me a unique perspective to graphic design, but also the ability to communicate easily with architects.”

See more of Jenny’s work here.

Eva-Lotta Mattsson, Graduate Student at University of Gothenburg (Graphic Design)

Eva describes her work as: “I work mainly with graphic design, typography and patterns, preferably in combination with each other. I enjoy working with an indirect way of expressing myself through my design, which is why I think I am drawn to pattern and type. In my design work I want to give depth to the surface, both figuratively and literally. I often work with layer upon layers and transparency, to hide and highlight and to try to give structure and order to what I create. What I am after is a kind of ambiguity, where something lurks under the surface, the elusiveness of remembrance and a cameras ability to shift its focus between landscape and detail. For my final project for my bachelor’s degree I worked with the city of Berlin trying to convey the feeling of the city through abstract patterns. The outcome was a wallpaper collection called Großstadt consisting of three different patterns. I think this project is a very good example of how I work, where I have to be challenged intellectually as well as creatively.”

See more of Eva’s work here.

Tim McMahon, Graduate Student at Cranbrook Academy of Art (Metalsmithing)

Tim describes his work as: “I consider my work contemporary jewelry while drawing on inspiration from traditional techniques, materials, and designs; as well as the concept of traditional jewelry. Within the context of jewelry I often use what would be considered low-value and unfinished materials, but with more care and attention than a bench jeweler would care use when setting a diamond. At first my work might seem excessive to some, but I focus on making jewelry objects that retain their function and are meant to be worn, used, and shared. I’m drawn to jewelry because it has a connection to the body and is meant to be worn; it has an active role in society rather than passive. I think my focus is unique in that I sincerely try to find the innate beauty of the materials I use, weather it’s easily recognized or not. Shattered glass often wins against precious stones in my eyes, and a brightly colored plastic coating can be infinitely more complimentary than polished gold. ”

See more of Tim’s work right here.

Kate Nartker, Graduate Student at CCA

Kate describes her work as: “I convert videos into cloth, and then back into videos. I am interested in the intersection of cinema and textiles, and how the two media can follow and reshape each other’s logic and forms. The textile—which shares the Latin root texere (“to weave”) with the word “text”—is, like cinema, a visual and spatial text. Both mediums are intrinsically given to narrative and both, whether I construct them frame-by-frame or stitch-by-stitch, tell stories through incremental and procedural processes. Using digital tools and cinematic methods, I introduce elements of time and movement to textile works. This produces various kinds of tension in each piece: between vision and touch, surface and depth, order and randomness, progress and stasis. As I examine these variations, I pull imagery that is dominated by the optic into a more tactile space where vision can operate as a form of contact. In the way that moving images use time and illusory depth, and the way textiles use surface, space, and texture, the potential for the two mediums to inform one another is great: physicality can be drawn out of the film image, and flux can be drawn from fabric. Recently I have begun to work with VHS home video footage. I am fascinated that family stories rest on fragile video signals, which encode information through horizontal and vertical lines. Just as a cloth is constructed by passing the weft thread through the warp, the actual video information is encoded in the scanning of lines from left to right. I believe this structural relationship underscores the materiality of the videotape, and speaks to the vulnerable character of human memory. By seeking out moments where the tape is degrading, I aim to draw a parallel to the disintegration of clarity, and also to shift identification from a recognizable scene to textures on the surface. I weave these images on a Jacquard loom, scan the cloth into digital format, and animate them. This process abstracts the image through texture and repetitious handling, just as videotape is degraded each time it is reproduced. I believe what makes my work unique is the way I integrate digital media with traditional craft processes. I am not aware of many other artists who animate textiles, and what drives much of my work is the wonderment viewers have regarding the process. More specifically, the intersection of photography and weaving is an area that places my work in a uniquely contemporary context. This fall, craft theorist Glenn Adamson invited me to be included in the exhibition Shot Through at the Hordaland Art Center in Bergen, Norway with six other artists, including Chuck Close. The theme of the exhibition was this crossover of the two mediums. As Adamson states: “Textile and photography: the two media seem, at first, to be antithetical. On the one hand we have a painstakingly slow craft, and on the other an immediate and automatic process. One is constructive, the other indexical. Weaving is rooted in the past, photography the ultimate medium of modernity. It was an incredible honor to be included in this exhibition and a testament to the unbounded possibilities when disparate realms are explored together. In addition to seeking out the historical, material, and technical similarities, I am inspired that both cinema and textiles are culturally situated on the threshold between the everyday and the symbolic. I strongly feel that each is an integral part of our shared experiences, and I look forward to continuing this cross-media examination and connecting traditional textile techniques with contemporary art practice.”

See more of Kate’s work here.

Bethany Ng, Graduate Student at PSU (Graphic Design)

Bethany describes her work as: “My work has a very broad focus and I have been fortunate to work on many different projects with many different clients. I am primarily an illustrator, but also have a strong background in graphic design. For the past couple of years my primary focus has been on apparel graphics, product graphics and branding. I have worked with companies that are more technical and tight, companies that are fun and others that are open to just about anything. This variation has allowed me to push my style in places I have never imagined and has given me a portfolio of work which spans the breadth of my abilities. I think what is most unique about what I do is my approach to problem solving. Every project or client begins with a problem. This can be as simple as looking for a logo mark or as complex as branding a specific product to a hard to reach demographic. Problem solving is something I take great joy in and I love the process of initial concepts to the finished product. In every project I like to keep the client in mind and really try to identify the persona of the company or project. From there I try to implement their ideas with my vision and make the project into a reality.”

See more of Bethany’s work here.

Ashley Peifer, Graduate Student at MCAD (Painting)

Ashley describes her work as: “These paintings reflect my investigation into the materiality of paint and the discovery of what paint can do. The majority of my decisions are reactive and unconscious—I am thinking with my body. The paintings are constructed with multiple layers of oil and pencil markings. In my process, I save my favorite parts of each layer and cover up the parts that do not keep me interested. I am also experimenting with collage as a different way to explore the idea of layers. Each work develops within its own parameters but there are evident formal and tonal relationships between the pieces as I paint many at one time. I want my paintings to be ambiguous, with each existing in their own strange atmosphere.”

See more of Ashley’s work here.

Juan Soriano, Graduate Student at Scuola Politecnica di Design (Industrial Design)

Juan describes his work as: “I have a mind full of questions, curious by nature. As time passed i have gained more life experience, I have learned to move all these virtues to the design field. I have always been eclectic, I’m interested in creative subjects, such as design, photography, art, illustration and music. I always had the feeling that my point of view and criteria has been always different from the common view, with a particular way of looking at things. This attitude i gained with time, leaded me to develop and transform my thoughts into an applied value of design in real world, in everyday life. I defend the creative process, the function and the simplicity to develop relevant projects. I emphasize in the analysis, development, and communication stages although I always like to translate my concepts into objects that are charged with a twist, avoiding the obvious, questioning the archetype itself. For me is very important to create atemporal designs, but always preserving an universal language, and maintaining my personality in the way of doing. The esthetics are always a consequence of the form, and the concepts that i want to communicate. I like to work in objects, but as an output of a project i like to think about spaces, visual design, systems and strategy and mixed media. In the past I have gathered good communication skills and am able to present my ideas in a fluent and confident manner, in all the design process. From the creativity of generating new ideas, development, materialization and communication of the design.”

See more of Juan’s work here.

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